Educate Consumers to Drive Internet in Printing

Educate Consumers to Drive Internet in Printing

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Photofinishing is an important segment of the industry which everyone, including camera manufacturers, needs to be concerned about. For years, photofinishing drove the profitability of the industry at many levels.

As we know, consumers with film cameras had little choice but to print the pictures they had taken. Digital cameras brought consumers the freedom to choose whether they wanted to print their images. Those who wanted hard copies of pictures were faced with new decisions.

How do I do it? Do I print at home, try to upload images to a photofinisher, or interface with a kiosk or directly with a retailer? I believe most consumers who were faced with the choices had a less than positive experience. They never found a process as simple or as easy to understand as dropping off a roll of film.

When people buy a digital camera, rarely does anyone take the time to explain to them how to get their images printed or what might be the best solution for them. Since most cameras are purchased at non-sales assisted retailers, the majority of consumers are confused. This represents an opportunity for sales assisted retailers to help consumers figure out what is best for them and what they might be most comfortable doing. The retailers can help consumers develop a routine that would lead to more prints.

If more consumers understood right from the beginning how easy it is to get images printed, I think consumers would get in the habit of printing more images. Left in a more confused state, they print less.  

Recently, I have heard more and more consumers say that they wish they took the time to print more of their digital images. There are certainly times when they would like to share their pictures as they have done in the past. E-mailing images has become increasingly popular, but does not replace giving or sending a printed image.  

So how can retailers reach out to those consumers? It surprises me when a retailer’s solution to the problem of the lack of printing is offering prints at lower prices. Why not focus their efforts on gaining consumers interest in printing instead?  

Pushing Print
There are several ways to increase consumer interest in photo prints. First, is to help them understand the choices and how easy it is to print. An educated consumer will no doubt print more images than the confused consumer. This education should start when the consumer buys the camera. When you buy a car, dealers today take the time to show the consumer their service department and how easy it is to get an appointment.

Unfortunately, most retailers only spend time getting the consumer to buy digital camera accessories like a battery or carrying case. The long-term revenue stream could be the photofinishing, and it might be advantageous to offer incentives to the sales associates to develop a better strategy to retain the consumer’s photofinishing business. Developing a loyalty program that consumers embrace is a win-win situation.

Another opportunity is to establish a new routine to make it easier for consumers to remember to have their pictures printed. Why not create a special day like the last day of the month when print costs drop significantly? On a particular day, why not offer significant discounts on printing birthday party pictures? Not all consumers may take advantage of the promotion; however, it would get people thinking that they should print pictures taken at a recent wedding or birthday party.

Better Picture= More Prints
Yet another opportunity to increase interest is to help consumers take better pictures. Most consumers are not experienced photographers, and they may feel the quality of their pictures keeps them from having the photos printed or enlarged. On the other hand, if consumers learn to take better pictures when they buy their camera, they would be more interested in sharing them and printing them. Most cameras have scene modes or in Casio’s case, we have the Best Shot mode.

With this mode, consumers will get better pictures. When people take pictures, they often stand too far away from the subject. With the trimming mode in our camera and higher mega-pixels it is quite easy to zoom in and trim a great portrait of the subject. Ultimately, these are the images consumers would like to share or even put in a picture frame.  

Retailers interested in expanding their print business need to connect directly with the consumer either at the time they purchase their digital camera or through some other way. They need to create events or reasons to come in to learn more about the printing process. Creating “Ask the Expert” events where consumers can find out what they can do after they take the picture would not only increase their printing business, but could increase frame business.  

The most important thing everyone in the industry needs to consider is how to make sure buying and using a digital camera is fun and easy. This includes all aspects of the experience, including getting their pictures printed. yy

Bill Heuer is Vice President of the Digital Imaging Division at Casio America, Inc.

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